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Italy, philosophy in

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-N028-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved May 21, 2024, from

Article Summary

Since the Renaissance, Italian philosophy has been rooted in the humanist and historical tradition, stemming from the rediscovery of Greek philosophy in the fifteenth century and the resumption of classical studies at that time. However, the momentous cultural and religious transformations of sixteenth-century Europe caused a reaction which greatly restrained the innovative impact of Renaissance thought. Living through these two periods, Bruno, Campanella and Galileo experienced all the conflicts of the Counter-Reformation, when philosophy especially felt the weight of the Roman Catholic Church which exercised a tight control on the culture of the time. The best traditions of the Renaissance were inherited and maintained solely by Vico, the most important figure of this latter period.

As the spirit of the Counter-Reformation declined, Italian philosophy acquired a new vigour in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This occurred especially in the north of the country where contacts with modern European culture influenced a political situation dominated by the question of national unity (a problem debated since the time of Machiavelli). Philosophical thought during this period tended to be strongly political (as in the philosophy of Cattaneo), although it also assumed a deeply religious tone (for example, Mazzini and Gioberti). These themes were united in Hegelian Idealism, promoted by Spaventa among others. The neo-Idealists of the early twentieth century, such as Croce and Gentile, distinguished themselves by assuming a political role and by opposing empiricism and positivism, philosophical heirs of the Enlightenment which were traditionally considered alien although popular at that time.

The aftermath of the Second World War brought to gradual dissolution both philosophical and political neo-Idealism, a movement which was rooted especially at the universities of Rome and Naples; it also saw the rise of Marxist thought (Gramsci) and Existentialism, especially at the universities of Bologna, Milan and Turin. Among the most important figures in contemporary Italian philosophy we find Bobbio (political philosophy), Pareyson, Vattimo and Eco. While both French and German philosophy still play a major role in the philosophical debate, in recent years increasing attention has been paid to Anglo-Saxon philosophy.

Citing this article:
Chiurazzi, Gaetano. Italy, philosophy in, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-N028-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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